HH: You are also doing triple duty as the Misty Knight character, with appearances on the two series The Defenders and Iron Fist. What is that experience like, and how do you balance doing all three shows?
SM: Thankfully, they don’t shoot at the same time! But it is interesting bringing this character to multiple shows. Misty was created on Luke Cage, so the writers “get” Misty. They know how she sounds,
what she thinks. The other shows are harder, because they have so many other characters to focus on. So I speak up for my character often, in order to maintain who she is—whether she’s in Chinatown on Iron Fist or downtown on The Defenders. I’m happy to be able to sprinkle Misty around on all these other shows. It’s such a gift.
HH: Are there any special rituals or routines that you follow to prepare for long days on set?
SM: I am big on drinking water, taking vitamins and eating right. There’s always junk food and dessert food around on set—and I try as much as possible to stay away, because the crash is horrible! And, of course, naps: I’ll catch a quick catnap on set in the middle of craziness, if my body needs it!
HH: What is the source of your inspiration, in life and in your career?
SM: God is my source of inspiration and motivation. I’m so absolutely blessed to be able to do what I do, what I think God placed me on earth to share. As I walk in His will, I’m always inspired to be the best version of myself and to make Him proud. That is true for my work and my personal life.
HH: We noticed that on and off the show, you experiment with a lot of beautiful natural hairstyles. Can you tell us a little about your natural-hair journey?
SM: I decided to go natural in 2009. I hadn’t had a relaxer since 2000, but I was always wearing my hair straight. I would go to the Dominican salons in D.C., and they would blow my hair bone-straight—and that’s how I wore it for years. When I got to L.A., I started experimenting with sew-ins, and I would gain all this length! Then I would wear my hair out, and it would just break off again. This went on for years! So when I decided to go natural, I found Felicia Leatherwood (Loving Your Hair With Natural Care) in L.A., and people call her the “hair whisperer” for a reason! She told me what was wrong in my diet, my stress level, sleep, vitamins, everything. We did a big chop and then I just started experimenting with protective styles and natural looks. I’m a product junkie, so I’ve tried every different type of shampoo, conditioner, cream, custard, gel—you name it, I owned it. But I’m happy with the system I’m working with now.
HH: Do you and your on-set hairstylist collaborate a lot on the styles that you wear on the show?
SM: Because Misty is such an iconic character, she pretty much wears her hair like a uniform. But every now and again, I get to play with a different look. Giselle Modeste is an amazing NYC stylist, and she has come in and created looks for Misty Knight on Luke Cage seasons one and two as well as her look on The Defenders. I’m praying that if we get a third season, she and I can collaborate on more exciting looks for Misty.